I still don’t know what CBD actually is….

If you’ve ever found yourself asking this question then you are not alone. In a world where news shows, studies, and articles being shared on social media are coming at us we all feel like we know a little bit about CBD. But like you we still found ourselves wondering about what it is, where it comes from, how does it work, and is it more than just snake oil. 

So we decided to come up with all the information you’ll need to have a complete understanding of CBD. We’ll take you on a little journey of the cannabis plant, its history around the world and the U.S. 

  • Where did Cannabis come from?
  • How does CBD work? Endocannabinoid? Um what?
  • What products is it used in?
  • How do I know what’s safe?

Where did Cannabis come from?

Just like many natural remedies our ancestors were the first to discover and use CBD and medicinal marijuana to cure many ailments, like gout, malaria, and digestive problems. The first known use of the plant was by the Emperor of China, Sheng Neng in 2727 BC. He used a cannabis based product in tea.

This map shows how marijuana spread throughout the world, from its origins on the steppes of Central Asia(Image credit: Barney Warf, University of Kansas)

The plant is likely to have begun migrating around the world starting in 2000 BC from the Central Steppes of Asia in Mongolia and southern Siberia regions. Seeds and plant matter has been found in rubbish piles in ancient human sites through the area indicating that there was wide and common use of the plants. 

The Cannabis plant has two subspecies, Cannabis Sativa, and, Cannabis Sativa L. (The L comes from the botanist Carl Linnaeus) This subspecies is known as Hemp and is the non psychoactive plant used in many manufacturing processes like clothing, paper, oils, and fuel.

Two additional species of the psychoactive forms of the plant include Cannabis Indica discovered by the French naturalist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, and the less common Cannabis Ruderalis discovered by Russian botanist D.E. Janischevisky

Cannabis traveled through China by coastal towns down to Korea and eventually to India where it was written in the ancient Sanskrit Vedic Poem “Science of Charms” where they called it one of the “Five Kingdom of herbs…which releases us from anxiety”. 

The Scythians are the likely source of bringing cannabis to the middle east and were known users of the plant. They, as nomadic people, occupied much of Ukraine and parts of the Middle East between 2000 BC and 1400 BC. From Scythians Germanic tribes brought the plant to the rest of Europe and up through Britain in the 5th century, while through the middle east the plant was introduced to the continent of Africa.

The Hemp plant first made it’s voyage to America via pilgrims on the Mayflower, as hemp rope and sails were a vital material used by the British empire. The Crown viewed the plant so vital to its fleet that it required its ship captains to carry seeds with every ship and spread them to every port that they visited to keep a constant supply of the materials they would need for ship repairs and upkeep.

The Crown also required colonists to cultivate the crop to further help supply the global British fleet. In the mid 1600’s the crop became a major commodity for New England, Virginia, and Maryland. The thriving hemp industry created products ranging from cloth, rope, bags, paper, and canvas. Thomas Jefferson, a known Hemp farmer, even invented a special brake to help with the fiber crushing process.

In 1937 the federal government passed the Marijuana Tax Act, which was aimed at regulating the narcotic varieties of cannabis. This law also gave over the regulation of hemp production to the Department of Revenue, which became responsible for issuing licenses to all hemp growers. Hemp saw its last gasp leading up to and during WWII when the USDA created a program called “Hemp for Victory” which encouraged farmers to grow industrial hemp for rope and cloth fibers. But before the program could be fully implemented the war ended and all of the contracts with farmers and factory owners were canceled. 

In 1940 Roger Adams, Madison Hunt, and J.H. Clark from the University of Illinois isolated CBD for the first time. They discovered that there were non psychoactive compounds within the plant. This research would lead many others to identify and study as many as 400 additional compounds within the plant both psychoactive and non psychoactive. 

The 1970’s came with a big blow to the cannabis industry with the passage of the War on drugs and cannabis became a schedule 1 drug on par with truly dangerous drugs like heroin and meth. It’s inclusion on the schedule 1 drug list has always been controversial and states like Oregon and Washington decriminalized some use of the drug as soon as 1973 but with many limitations. 

California, in 1996, legalized medical use of cannabis setting the stage for advocates across the nation to begin pushing legislators in their states to start considering laws that allowed medical use in their states. Medical use really took off when in 2004 a girl named Charlotte from the Figi family used a CBD strain to help reduce her seizures from as many as 300 a week to 3-4 a month. Her story was a featured story across numerous major news networks. 

Finally in 2018 the US passed the new Farm Bill, which made Hemp derived CBD legal on a federal level. This ended 81 years of prohibition on the Hemp plant’s cultivation and use. 

How Does CBD Work?

CBD works by interacting with the endocannabinoid system, which is present in all mammals. This system regulates and reacts with cells that control appetite, metabolism, memory and much more. Whenever our body comes out of homeostasis that’s when the endocannabinoid system kicks in and begins the process to start synthesizing the necessary endocannabinoids that will bring the body back to homeostasis. At this point the endocannabinoids are acting as neurotransmitters and they are picked up by receptors that specialize in receiving cannabinoids that sit on the surface of the cells. 

The endocannabinoid system is divided into two types of receptors called CB1 and CB2 receptors, which interact slightly differently with cannabinoids. These are located throughout the body from the top of our heads to the bottom of our feet. Knowing this is useful for targeting pain or inflammation in specific regions of the body. 

Once the body has reached equilibrium and returns to homeostasis, enzymes break down the endocannabinoids and metabolize them.

“Science evidences a strong relationship between the endocannabinoid system and CBD. Cannabinoids, like those found in isolates and oils, mimic the behavior of endocannabinoids and interact with the cannabinoid receptors to augment the endocannabinoid system. As the cannabinoids interact with the cannabinoid receptors, they stimulate various physiological responses.” (Jeffrey Stamberger, THE ENDOCANNABINOID SYSTEM – AN OVERVIEW)

CBD interacts with receptors by sitting inside CB1 and CB2 but have a low affinity for both. This means that they sit imperfectly inside the receptor and does not activate them but prevent other chemicals like THC from binding. Other minor cannabinoids react in the same way as CBD, which include CBG, CBN, and CBC by not filling the receptor completely and denying THC from binding.

Phytocannabinoids, like the THC from cannabis or the concentrated CBD in hemp, obviously affect the endocannabinoid system. However, it has also been shown that non-psychoactive phytocannabinoids from other plants, and even other compounds like terpenes and flavonoids, are picked up by receptors in our endocannabinoid systems (Gertsch et al, 2010).

Because small doses of phytocannabinoids can encourage the body to create more naturally occurring endocannabinoids and their receptors, it may be possible to bolster the sensitivity of our native systems with regular cannabinoid supplements (Pacher et al, 2006).

What products is CBD used in?

You’ve probably already seen CBD on shelves in stores like CVS, Target, Sephora, or even heard of it being used in products ranging from edibles, topicals or tinctures. This is because CBD is such an easy product to add to almost any product and see real tangible results. 

Many companies use custom formulations to enhance their products by combining CBD with MCT oils, vitamins, and proteins to further enhance the effect of their products. We’ve seen CBD put into beard oil, pet products, and lotions. 

How do I know what’s safe

Research, research, research, It’s hard to put enough emphasis on this. Knowing brands and becoming familiar with ingredients the industry uses is vital. We recommend asking for the Certificate of Analysis (COA) and make sure the batch number matches the product. 

Make sure to look for potency or “total cannabinoids” on the COA. This will tell you the level of cannabinoids in the product. If the product claims that it’s 1000mg of CBD then the COA should match that.

On each COA there is a section for pesticides, residual solvents, and heavy metals which should all be below the minimum required levels. The product will not pass testing without it, so look for the COA to ensure they are testing properly. 

Look for domestically grown hemp products, as foreign grown hemp plants and processing might not meet the rigorous standards that the US Department of Agriculture requires.

Works Cited

Chemical Ecology of Cannabis, www.druglibrary.org/olsen/hemp/iha/iha01201.html.

Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Hemp.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 6 Aug. 2019, www.britannica.com/plant/hemp.

“The Endocannabinoid System: Medical Marijuana Inc.” Medical Marijuana, Inc., 15 Aug. 2019, www.medicalmarijuanainc.com/endocannabinoid-system/.

Laura PyneCBDC Lead Researcher As a nature/natural-living enthusiast and professional writer/researcher. “History of CBD – A Timeline of CBD from First Recorded Case to Present.” CBD Central, 29 Aug. 2019, www.cbdcentral.com/the-history-of-cbd/.“Marijuana’s History: How One Plant Spread Through the World.” LiveScience, Purch, www.livescience.com/48337-marijuana-history-how-cannabis-travelled-world.html.

Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. This product is not for use by or sale to persons under the age of 21. All products listed on this site are Non-THC or THC is less than 0.03%. This product should be used only as directed on the label. It should not be used if you are pregnant or nursing. This website is not offering medical advice. Consult with a physician before use if you have a serious medical condition or use prescription medications. A Doctor’s advice should be sought before using this and any supplemental dietary product.

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